With nothing but granola bars, pink rubber boots and each other, two 5-and 8-year-old sisters were found in the rugged Northern California wilderness Sunday, 44 hours after they had gone missing.
Leia (8) and Caroline (5) Carrico were first reported missing by their mother, Misty Carrico, around 3pm on Friday afternoon. She went looking for them with neighbors and friends before calling the sheriff’s office three hours later.
After 44 hours of searching, the sisters were found near Richardson State Park, about 1.4 miles south of their home in Benbow on Sunday Morning.
“I am pleased to report that we all are witnessing a miracle today. Caroline and Leia have been found safe and sound in southern Humboldt,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said at a news conference, which was wildly applauded by rescuers who had been searching for the girls for three days.
Authorities launched an expansive search that involved more than 170 official personnel from 21 law enforcement and military agencies, including two helicopter crews and 12 K-9 units. The search also garnered several volunteers from around the rural community.
The girls were found around 10:30am Sunday morning when they responded to rescuers calling out to them. They were cold, dehydrated, but uninjured, and huddled together under a bush.
“This is an absolute miracle,” Honsal said. “This is rugged territory, this is an extreme environment. How they were out there for 44 hours is pretty amazing.”
The girls told first responders that they got lost following a deer trail, and decided to stay where they were. They were able to drink fresh water from Huckleberry leaves.
A photo released by the sheriff’s department shows Caroline, dressed in a pink sweater and matching rain boots, dirty jeans and a wool cap, speaking with a firefighter after she and her big sister were found.
One person commented that “she looks like a seasoned outdoor gal” while another said, “those little adventurers will sure have a story to tell!”
“A lot of us didn’t get any sleep the last 48 hours or so,” Honsal said of the more than 200 rescuers from across the state who joined the search. “To have a positive outcome like this is just absolutely amazing … These girls definitely have a survival story to tell.”
He said the girls were examined by paramedics before being reunited with their parents on Sunday afternoon, shortly after they were located. They were found just hours before a rain storm was scheduled to hit the area.
“We could not have had a better outcome than we’ve had this morning,” Honsal said. “It’s an absolute miracle.”
Rescuers were hopeful Saturday after they came across tracks from the girls’ boots and wrappers from granola bars. It was the tracks from their boots that eventually led rescuers to the sisters.